I read a wonderful article by Roy Richard Grinker, a noted anthropologist and a father of an autistic daughter. It gave a lot of insights into how society can evolve to provide the best and appropriate care/services to some of its weakest members i.e. our special children. For example in the mid to late 20th century, parents had to hide their childs disability such as autism to avoid their progeny being taken away from their care and being put into institutions(euphemistically-“residential programs”). The change came into being by a strong disability activism, societal pushing for deinstitutionalisation and a better understanding of the disorder. In 1990-1 they passed the The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) whereby their children were reintegrated into the education system with provision of appropriate intervention related to their disability.
How did this happen? Through the legislators and Society hearing the voices of the effected participants i.e. our children, through their advocates, their parents. In the US a whole industry has been spawned around this. There are now millions employed in providing therapy, medical care, special education, child psychiatry and research on causes and efficacious treatments.
This is why parent activism is so important. Society is not going to change by itself. The process of this evolution cannot be brought about by millions of effected individuals, each one by them selves. It will be brought about by their voices joining together as one….
The balance of power will shift from the institutions to the serviced. From the seller to the customer, from the provider to the needy, and in this process society will develop new employment, new breakthroughs in treatment and most importantly an improvement in Social equity and justice.